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"Her face was set in a scowl almost constantly. She never smiled …… She was up all night long and asleep all day."

-Yvonne, mother whose daughter was abusing prescription drugs

Are medications disappearing from your home?

Check your medications. Are the amounts what you expect them to be? Are there empty cough syrup bottles in the trash when no one has a cold?

Have you noticed an abrupt change in your teen's finances?

A youth who is selling prescription drugs at school may suddenly seem to have a great deal of cash on hand. A young person who is buying prescription drugs may be short of cash. Missing cash and valuables are often signs of drug abuse.

Have you noticed a disturbing change in your adolescent's personality?

Adolescence is characterized by moodiness, but dramatic mood swings and changes in appearance can indicate a serious problem that may be the result of depression, an anxiety disorder, an underlying physical condition, or alcohol or other drug abuse. It may be due to a combination of these factors.

Some signs that indicate a problem and require your immediate attention include:

  • Sudden withdrawal from friends and family, a desire to be isolated and alone
  • Apathy and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Hostility, increased anger, and aggressive behavior around friends, family, and/or authority figures
  • Increased irritability or crying spells

Have you noticed a change in your adolescent/young adult's behavior?

Behavior changes usually accompany changes in mood. Dramatic differences in behavior can be warning signs of drug abuse:

  • Change in personal hygiene, reduced concern for appearance and cleanliness
  • Abrupt decline in grades, quality of work, and school attendance
  • Shifts in sleep patterns, sleeping significantly more or less than before or sleeping all day and staying up all night
  • Socializing with new friends whose presence you find troubling
  • Secretive behavior and phone calls
  • Breaking curfew and increased defiance of family rules, such as doing chores, or coming home for dinner

You know your son or daughter better than anyone. Trust your intuition. If you think something is wrong, call your pediatrician/doctor to discuss what you see. They can help you get an assessment, so that you can identify the problem and get the help your child needs. If you do not have a health care provider, you can call 1-877-211-6277 to get help finding one, even if you do not have health insurance.

(1) Partnership for a Drug-Free America. (2010). Drug guide by name. Retrieved February 24, 2010 from www.drugfree.org

This information is provided by the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services within the Department of Public Health .